Marketing Planning: Building a Blueprint for Your Brand

It’s October, which means if you haven’t already started thinking about your 2012 marketing plan, it’s time to start. During our October DIG, we discussed the nuts & bolts of planning for next year & unpacked everything you need to know when it comes to marketing your brand.

Brand Touch Points

Diagram Copyright of Design Brand Identity, 3rd Edition, by Alina Wheeler

We admit, at first this diagram can be a little overwhelming, but it’s an important reminder of how many touch points your brand can have. It also prevents you from falling into one of the common marketing pitfalls,which we also covered during the DIG.

Steps to Planning for Success

Step One: Know your Product or Service – There is a reason that this is the first step when it comes to planning for success. If you don’t know what you’re selling, how can you create a plan to sell more? Before you start digging into branding and planning, it’s important to determine why you’re doing it. Make sure you know exactly what you’re selling.

Step Two: Research – Researching on the front end can save you a lot of time and money down the road. It’s important to find your target market. Host focus groups or indulge in market research to hone in on who is really going to be interested in buying your product. Don’t think you have a specific target market? You do.

Step Three: Listen to Your Audience – So you’ve determined your product/service and target market. Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get that target audience interested in your brand. Many times brands want to jump into the launch of their product without first figuring out how they want to approach their messaging. Listen. Consumers are talking about products in your industry. Taking advantage of what they’re saying could be a huge opportunity for your brand. Is there something you can offer that competitors can’t? How can your product or service make life better for your potential customers?

Step Four: Branding and Messaging – A brand is made up of the numerous methods and tactics that a company can utilize to tell their story and promote their product or service. To create true brand congruency that leads to customer acquisition, the way a company “talks” about itself must always be consistent. From collateral to elevator pitches and web to print advertising, tone, vocabulary, key benefits and unique selling propositions must be outlined in a purposeful messaging exercise.

Step Five: Marketing Planning – The key to a successful marketing campaign is strategy. But it’s not something we make up out of thin air — it’s something we engage in. It’s a process that allows us to customize to help achieve what you’ve always wanted: Growth, image, legacy. It’s important to create a plan that is ever-changing and can be followed by all team members. Each section builds the proper plan and one leads seamlessly to the next. Treat the strategies as the overall umbrella, with the tactics supporting each strategy, and the exhibits fully outlining your approach.

Step Six: Launch of Plan –  Now that your plan has been developed, budgets and timelines approved, the execution begins. Generally at Werkshop this means getting our team back together to review the plan.  All team members need to fully understand the overall goals, strategies and tactics that will be implemented.  Stick to the plan but be flexible. This is the stage in which we create your brand. 

Step Seven: Measure the Results – We’re big advocates for this. The key to measuring your results is having measurable goals to begin with. How you measure each goal will vary, but have the measurement tools in mind and build them into your plan.

The Presentation

May the Force Be with You

@Twelpforce, that is. At this month’s DIG, we featured a B2C case study for Best Buy’s Twitter channel, @Twelpforce, in our presentation (check it out over here). We came across a lot of helpful information while we were pulling together research, more than would fit in an hour-long format, and we wanted to share it with you. Fast Company calls it “Marketing that Isn’t Marketing,” and Twitter even features Best Buy in their small library of case studies. To learn more about Best Buy’s outstanding use of Twitter as a customer service tool, check out the links below.

Fast Company – Marketing that Isn’t Marketing Case Study – Best Buy

An Interview with Best Buy’s Social Media Steward, John Bernier

Best Buy’s @Twelpforce Participation Guidelines

Using the Marketing Measuring Tape

As a marketing strategist, I have learned to define the marketing discipline in many ways. I talk about the marketing toolbox endlessly. I continually emphasize the importance of strategy as the framework of marketing tactics, but more than anything else, I repeat my mantra of marketing execution incessantly: Plan > Test > Measure > Repeat!

Measure? Really? Why, you might ask? As I said in this month’s presentation “Using the Marketing Measuring Tape,” there are several key reasons marketers should measure the effectiveness of their craft:

  1. Our competition is smarter
  2. Our budgets are smaller
  3. Our time is stretched
  4. Our jobs are limited
  5. Our companies deserve it
While studies from the industry’s major consulting firms show that less than half of us are measuring and reporting on our work, I also found in the research that we completed preparing for this presentation that the most successful companies are the ones who measure. This isn’t by accident.

The presentation we have loaded here gives tactic-by-tactic instructions on how to measure ROI along with tidbits and helpful links for further reading. So, remember, keep it simple and be consistent. And when you’re ready, help yourself to a measuring tape – and get to work!

Using the Marketing Measuring Tape

Marketing Planning for 2011

Two DIGs, two days, two cities and many friendly faces – that pretty much sums up the last few days for me! As usual, it was a pleasure to dig in to a marketing topic with friends, but considering that this month was about marketing planning, I am particularly satisfied. As the “head brain in charge of marketing plans” at Werkshop, (I don’t plan to change my title, by the way), it is imperative that I not only stay current and follow marketing trends, but it is equally as important that I not lose sight of the basics of what we do. If you attended the DIG this week, you experienced a solid refresher course in marketing strategy 101. We discussed everything from the relevance of mission statements, knowing who your company really is (what are those core values again?), to goal setting.

The presentation from this week’s DIG can be found below.

What to take away from this week’s lesson?

1. Think about your marketing plan in a two parts: First, it is a repository of information from the history of your company and what you learned from those activities and secondly, it is a road map for what you want to accomplish in the next period of time.

2. Anchor your plan in “big ideas” – but not every tactic has to be a big idea.

3. Measure, measure, measure. If you can’t measure it, don’t put it in the plan.

4. Don’t plan alone. Form a committee who will hold you accountable and challenge your opinions.

5. Be consistent. If you start 2011 with a good plan, it will be simple to refresh in 2012, and beyond. Just get started.

BG Brainstorming DIG

Can we say we brainstormed on brainstorming today? I think we most certainly can, and we did. I continue to be amazed at how much I learn at these things, and I’m the one who moderated the session. Here’s a few tidbits our panelists shared if you were unable to attend:

Steve Chandler, ChandlerThinks:
• Google
• Pencil and blank paper
• Flip chart paper and marker
• Different location (i.e. Parthenon in Centennial Park or on a boat)
• I follow my crazy random thoughts
• Creative awards books are fantastic (I review Creative Arts anytime I can for ideas)
• The book “Ignite Your Creative Spark: 20 Ways to Fire Up Your Imagination”

John R. Oldham, Oldham Design Group
• Identify the goals, write them down, doodle if I have to
• Gotta have legals pads everywhere (never know when an idea will hit)
• Go somewhere (Barnes & Noble, coffee shop, quick drive, a walk)
• Open the mind to accept all ideas, feelings and images

Dr. Jennifer Mize-Smith, Western Kentucky University

1. Plan a meeting that will be dedicated only to brainstorming: Brainstorming deserves its own time and attention
2. Assemble a diverse group of people: Strive for a group that reflects different perspectives and includes representatives from all those who have a stake in the outcome
3. Invite an “outsider” to participate: Someone who can offer input but is not entrenched in the problem at hand
4. Go to a new/different location free from typical work distractions: Avoid interruptions and help everyone clear their minds of all the other tasks they need to do
5. Explain the groundrules and solicit everyone’s agreement: Ensure everyone is willing to follow the process and accept its outcome, despite their own agendas
6. Create a positive group climate: Encourage participation and make people feel comfortable to say whatever comes to mind
7. Choose a brainstorming technique and explain the process: Check out for 25 different techniques
8. Appoint a process observer: Someone to make sure the brainstorming technique is being followed
9. Suspend reality and postpone any evaluation or critique: Avoid making evaluative judgments of of what will and won’t work
10. Conduct a warm-up exercise in creative thinking: People often need a jump-start to get the creative juices flowing
11. Record all ideas where everyone can see them: All ideas have potential at this point
12. Utilize more than one brainstorming technique: Different people may respond to different methods

John R. Oldham, Oldham Design Group

1. The Problem is the Problem — In other words, defining a unique problem would inspire a unique solution. Expressing the uniqueness of what the problem is trying to communicate with an idea that is valid only for that problem.
2. Think First. Then Write or Design — Before you begin any project, think first, think about what you want to say or what kind of feeling you’re trying to portray. Every project’s solution or idea should evoke a special atmosphere or attention that with enhance the message you’re aiming for.
3. Interesting Words Need Boring Graphics — Don’t mess with a good strong message. If you try to make interesting words LOOK interesting, the way it looks competes with the statement. Never overthink, simple and strong or interesting words are enough if done simple, sweet and sometimes poetic.
4. Boring Words Need Interesting Graphics — Designers are not usually good copywriters. So, if the words or message is not inspired or creative, then the graphics need to carry the load and get the attention and let the words provide the information in a simple and straightforward way.
5. Less is More — Sometimes if your solution calls for simple, make it really simple. If you can combine two ideas or thoughts into one idea you have a much better chance to providing success to your message. Whether combining words or words and graphics, the simpler and more direct provide better success if simplicity is the solution.
6. More is More — Sometimes if your solution calls for big, make it really big.. if it calls for color, use more than you can stand… if it calls for being bold, then go large and bold. Take any idea or direction as far as you can take it, and then after you think you’ve done that, you’ll find that you can push it even farther. Remember, it’s not natural to go to an extreme on anything, that’s why it works and is noticed and effective.
7. Forget the Rules — Think outside the box, go to extremes, push the envelope… Don’t accept mediocrity, look at the solution as unique to that problem or project. Sometimes the wildest and most off-the-wall ideas can be the answer, and sometimes the simplest idea may be perfect. Keep an open mind, the solution has to define the problem.

Apps as a Marketing Tool

At Werkshop, we have been at this “DIG business” for a long time. For almost two years, we have been working to deliver interesting and informative marketing conversation in the form of the DIG events. We love doing it, and sessions like the one that we held today makes every second we spend building the educational arm of the agency – the Werkshop Institute –  worth it.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Marketing as a discipline has changed over the past eighteen months. We’ve moved from a static box of tools to an ever-evolving menu of marketing options. And now, as marketers, we have added smart phone “Apps” as a powerful and engaging option. Apps aren’t effective if they are used all on their own, but if incorporated into a well-planned marketing recipe – they can deliver a beautiful result.

In today’s session, we covered App basics, the App Economy and discussed how developers are making money. Knowing that there are more than 270,000 Apps in the AppStore proves the point that with a crowded market comes the need for marketing attention and a solid strategy behind their development. The concept that Apps can be used to market brands and products is widely accepted, but the concept that Apps must be marketed to be successfully received may not be occurring to developers and marketers alike. I hope today’s talk clarified both topics for the participants.

I want to thank today’s guest speaker, Brian Cauble of Appsolute Genius. His company is a great ally, and his knowledge makes us better!

In closing, I want to call attention to my thoughts about things to consider before creating an App for your company.

1.  Does developing and promoting an app help my company meet certain objectives?
2.  What business model is right for meeting our goals?
3.  What partnerships are possible that might make my app more appealing, or easier to market?
4.  What is my plan for marketing the app once it is built? (note: PR isn’t enough)
5.  How will I measure the app’s effectiveness and ROI?
6.  Is my app sustainable?
7.  How long do I have in the marketplace before a competitor surfaces?

View the presentation below.


Social Media: Risk or Reward?

This week’s DIG was a tiny step away from the traditionally “marketing” focused content that our monthly gatherings are known for. But the topic of how Social Media (Marketing) is affecting the employee/employer relationship was fascinating!! I’m not sure that as marketers we could have known that the creation of the marketing platforms and social networks that have been so fanatically adopted would have the dramatic affect that it IS having on the world (and specifically, the world of Human Resources).

The experts from the Nashville office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart spoke to our group and shared a presentation full of anecdotes, laws, best practices and a heaping dose of a wake up call about the risks and reward of social marketing in the work place. The talk that Jennifer Rusie and Jonathan Harris delivered applied to all of us – those who hire, and those who are seeking to be hired.

My takeaway from the DIG? To be careful, and to document. While our agency has a sound social media policy for our staffers, we also have to manage social marketing for our clients. We need to encourage them to adopt simple, but structured policies to keep things on the up and up. The mere use of social networking in the workplace isn’t the primary issue, it is HOW it is being used, and what is being said that matters.

On hiring, I learned that if we choose (and it is a choice to consider seriously) to narrow candidates for an open position by looking at their online activity, that we need to proceed cautiously. It is perfectly legal to look at FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn or personal but public blogs, but as a prospective employer, we need to disclose that we are doing so. It’s fair, and it keeps the candidate from being able to say that they intended that information to be private – even though it may be publicly available.

Jenn and Jon’s presentation left me with some other things to consider as well – Do we need to consider a policy where managers are prohibited from “friending” their subordinates on FaceBook? How, and should we be monitoring text messages and tweets? Being a small shop, these actions are easier to manage because we can communicate directly with each employee about our expectations and rules of engaging in the social universe. It was also tremendously helpful to understand what larger employers, including our clients, may be faced with.

I know that the next time I am reading my FaceBook or Twitter feeds, I’ll think differently about what my own friends are posting – and how dancing the line between social and professional can be a risky balance.

View the presentation below.


Dot-Com-Munication comes to Bowling Green!

Professor Rob, I have a question — How do we make our website so awesome that it totally integrates with social media? For all Diggers who attended the DIG in BG today, we received the answer to just that question. Call it going back to school. Call it “we learned a thing or two today”. Call it what ever you want, but I think we can all agree it was well worth our time. Rob Blackford knows his stuff. Yes, I said it, his stuff. I can honestly say that Rob is one of the most talented and genuine people I have ever had the distinct pleasure of working with.

Rob spent the time he had this morning educating us to this basic outline of thought — that Design + Content + Promotion = a really good Website. It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but unfortunately, not many are doing it the right way. To bad for them. If you’ve made a commitment to do it right, then do it. If we can be of help, call us.


May Bowling Green DIG: PR 101

Toyota. Ring a bell? Yeah, figured it did. Come on, tell me what you really feel about this brand, especially now. They’ve taken a few sucker punches in the last few months haven’t they? It was through their PR efforts, or lack thereof, that we learned just how damaging a situation can become. At our Bowling Green DIG last week, David Green shared with us his philosophy of good PR and how we all should go about such activities.

If you have a hunch that PR should be a part of your daily marketing efforts, you’ve probably got a good hunch. Build a solid plan and make it happen.

For a more in depth look at PR101, see David’s presentation below.

An Ode to the Early Adopters of Social Marketing

I have a confession. I am not an “early adopter.” I said it out loud! I am NOT AN EARLY ADOPTER!!! I’m not sure WHAT to call myself, because professionally, I am a studier, predictor, strategy finder and lover of our early adopting friends. I know them, understand them and appreciate how they, as consumers of our client’s goods and services, keep us marketing types on our toes. They surprise us, and cause us to innovate. I “heart” them.

This group of trend setters has served as the engine behind the ever evolving discipline of social marketing. They have survived a million Google BETA tests and continue to be vocal when FaceBook screws up again. To them, I say, “Adopt on, my friends.” I’ll be watching, learning and once you have it all figure out, I’ll download the app.

For a more cerebral version of my “Ode to Social Marketing and the Early Adopters who we have to give thanks,” see the presentation below.

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